Funness

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Post: #1
I remember an old thread from way back when on this topic, but a quick google of iDG didn't readily turn anything up, so it's time for a new one!

I've created a smattering of prototypes of different game ideas over the past couple of months and they're all insanely boring. To put it politely. I imagine that I'm just not seeing the potential in the prototypes, or not taking it far enough, or any number of other reasons but I'm still left without a definite idea of funness.

So! In your opinion, what makes a game fun? Games that spring to mind as fun for me are the likes of Spectre Challenger, Bugdom, Convergence, Smuggler's Run, and of course pretty much any Mario game. Word games tend to hold my interest pretty well(Extend-a-Word FTW), along with pretty much any multiplayer game.
I'm not sure games such as Braid are 'fun' for me so much as an 'experience,' but I spent a good amount of time playing it so I'll include it in the list.

Is making fun games a matter of experience and beating your head against it until it works, or is there something a bit more substantial that I should be aiming for?

- Lincoln Green
http://www.binkworks.com/
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Post: #2
The old thread is actually still stickied in the Game Design forum: http://www.idevgames.com/forums/thread-3603.html

I think a lot of it does come down to experience. Thinking back to the principles I followed when designing Convergence (I'm honored to have earned a mention!), my list was something like this:
  • Don't waste the player's time
  • Variety is important (even if very subtle)
  • Make everything as snappy and responsive as possible
  • Teach the player how to play through gameplay
  • Give rich audio and visual feedback for all player actions
  • Trim out everything that doesn't need to be there
The rest of it is really just intuition and tuning. I spent a lot of downtime during (and prior to) the contest mulling over various game design things in my head, which would occasionally give me an insight that I could use to improve the game. This highly entertaining video series has a lot of good food for thought: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aip2aIt0ROM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FpigqfcvlM
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⌘-R in Chief
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Post: #3
Hmm. I'd say none of those bullet points make the game fun, but they are good things to do to avoid ruining the fun. Smile


What makes a game fun completely depends on the game. Lots of different reasons.

My two cents:

The challenge is what makes Convergence fun. Mario has a lot of variety and cute factor, but fundamentally it's still a challenge-based game too. These games don't require "skill" or "strategy" per-se. What you need to do is obvious, everybody already has the required skills, and the strategy is the same for everyone, it's primarily the challenge of actually doing it that's at the core.

Minecraft is "fun" because you can do whatever you want, and that's fairly unique. But I also don't think it's really fuuun, but it is entertaining. There's almost no challenge to it at all, per se.

Deus Ex is fun to me because of the rich story combined with the exploration and strategy involved at almost every point. Risk is a strategy game, Scrabble is a game of skill. Both of those are fun.



I don't think there's a good answer to "how to make a game fun," because there are limitless possibilities. I would say there are a combination of general "reasons" that apply to almost(?) all games like I described above (challenge, skill, strategy, etc), but what the complete list of those is, I don't know. And then, there are 1000 ways a game can involve "challenge", but they're not all going to be fun to the same degree to different people.

I haven't watched this whole video, but (after its slow start) it's interesting look at how to evolve a core mechanic game. I think you can use this to come up with a "fun" game.
http://the-witness.net/news/2011/11/desi...-universe/


</ramblings>
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Post: #4
(Jan 1, 2012 06:56 AM)ThemsAllTook Wrote:  The old thread is actually still stickied in the Game Design forum: http://www.idevgames.com/forums/thread-3603.html

Heh, facepalm. Ponder

(Jan 1, 2012 06:56 AM)ThemsAllTook Wrote:  I think a lot of it does come down to experience. Thinking back to the principles I followed when designing Convergence (I'm honored to have earned a mention!), my list was something like this:
  • Don't waste the player's time
  • Variety is important (even if very subtle)
  • Make everything as snappy and responsive as possible
  • Teach the player how to play through gameplay
  • Give rich audio and visual feedback for all player actions
  • Trim out everything that doesn't need to be there
The rest of it is really just intuition and tuning. I spent a lot of downtime during (and prior to) the contest mulling over various game design things in my head, which would occasionally give me an insight that I could use to improve the game.

That's actually a very helpful list. Paying more attention to how other 'fun' games do things, I've actually begun to notice more of that happening - visual feedback, variety, etc. Although it sounds ridiculous to say it, for a long time I just assumed that if I had a fun prototype, it would be fun and I wouldn't need to introduce any new mechanics or visual diversity to keep the player involved.

(Jan 1, 2012 06:56 AM)ThemsAllTook Wrote:  This highly entertaining video series has a lot of good food for thought: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aip2aIt0ROM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FpigqfcvlM

Really fascinating videos. I really appreciated the bit on teaching the player to play - I hate control dialogs, and read me's, so I generally try to actually have the training in-game - but the idea of not having any explicit training never even occurred to me.

(Jan 2, 2012 03:26 PM)SethWillits Wrote:  My two cents:

The challenge is what makes Convergence fun. Mario has a lot of variety and cute factor, but fundamentally it's still a challenge-based game too. These games don't require "skill" or "strategy" per-se. What you need to do is obvious, everybody already has the required skills, and the strategy is the same for everyone, it's primarily the challenge of actually doing it that's at the core.

I'm not quite sure I get your meaning. Mario and Convergence both are fun for me(as far as I can tell) because I know exactly what I need to do so there's no wandering around looking for secret goals(I hate wandering), but I don't really have the skill to complete the challenge when I start - I have to die a few times on some of the levels in order to figure out how to time my jumps (or attacks). That, and I appreciate the graphics and the feel on both Mario and Convergence - I could be entertained for a small while just moving around and experiencing the world.

(Jan 2, 2012 03:26 PM)SethWillits Wrote:  I don't think there's a good answer to "how to make a game fun," because there are limitless possibilities. I would say there are a combination of general "reasons" that apply to almost(?) all games like I described above (challenge, skill, strategy, etc), but what the complete list of those is, I don't know. And then, there are 1000 ways a game can involve "challenge", but they're not all going to be fun to the same degree to different people.

Good point - perhaps my question should be then: Are there any general guidelines to follow while designing that can help you end up with something fun?

I think the video you posted actually has a lot of useful information related to that in it - I'm halfway through it now.

Thanks for the links and thoughts guys! I've got a lot to think about now. Smile

- Lincoln Green
http://www.binkworks.com/
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Post: #5
I think probably the main point is to throw a lot of stuff at the wall. You won't find that one awesome idea if you don't try a lot of different things.

Once you have the kernel of something fun, the rest of these techniques can help you refine it, but they won't get you started.
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(Jan 5, 2012 08:21 PM)OneSadCookie Wrote:  I think probably the main point is to throw a lot of stuff at the wall. You won't find that one awesome idea if you don't try a lot of different things.

Once you have the kernel of something fun, the rest of these techniques can help you refine it, but they won't get you started.

Yeah, that's the idea I get.

On the other hand, stuff like this makes me wonder if maybe I just don't understand fun.Sneaky

- Lincoln Green
http://www.binkworks.com/
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Post: #7
Don't mistake fun for compulsion or addiction. The latter two may be good for the wallet but they're not good for the soul Wink
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(Jan 9, 2012 10:09 PM)FlamingHairball Wrote:  On the other hand, stuff like this makes me wonder if maybe I just don't understand fun.Sneaky

I know what you mean.

Incidentally, the ironic outcome of Cow Clicker is interesting reading:
http://kotaku.com/5846080/the-life+chang...facing-cow

Measure twice, cut once, curse three or four times.
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Post: #9
I've recently come back to a prototype I was working on a year ago and started to get it to the point where it can actually be tested for "funness". I'm now in the middle of tweaking/tuning lots of variables and well as implementing and taking out aspects of the gameplay to see what works. Right now it's looking like it is fun, but the interaction which makes it a bit original is not forming enough of the gameplay. So I'll keep fine tuning until I get to the point where I am happy with it or it turns out just not to be a great idea.

What's the point of my rambling here? As others have said - it's about getting your concept up and running and then fine tuning it to see if it works. It's pretty difficult (impossible?) to know if something will be fun until you try it.
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